From Little Ventures Small Wonders Emerge

This piece was originally posted on The Age on 1/24/09.

If you want to publish stylish and unique books, you don’t have to be a big concern, writes Simon Caterson.

IF SMALL is beautiful, as the economist E. F. Schumacher asserted, then Melbourne may boast of having a micro-publishing scene that is very attractive. Dozens of tiny publishers are producing everything from handmade recipe books, fiction and poetry to popular non-fiction and even book-like objects that defy classification.

According to the publishers, the diversity and eclecticism are just the points. Micro-publishing, they say, is all about the freedom to publish anything you want, whenever you want, in any form you like. There are as many different approaches to micro-publishing as there are publishers themselves, though the freedom gained via low overheads and small print runs does not exclude the possibility of producing books that appeal to a wide range of readers.

At the more entrepreneurial end of the micro-publishing spectrum is Arcade Publications, which has identified a gap in the market for short, inexpensive, carefully designed books covering aspects of Melbourne’s hitherto unexplored history.

Arcade made its publishing debut in 2007 with Lisa Lang’s pocket-sized biography of eccentric millionaire and philanthropist E. W. Cole and its next book, due in March, is about the equally colourful figure of Madame Brussels, the notorious brothel-keeper who accommodated the rich and powerful during the era of Marvellous Melbourne.

Arcade’s Rose Michael says that "the whole enterprise is a very close-knit ‘familial’ affair", which means that publishing decisions can be made quickly and that each person involved has a say in all aspects of the publishing process.

"Having worked in larger companies, you have so many decisions made by committee, and things are owned by so many different areas. In micro-publishing, you are able to just kind of do stuff around an island bench."

For Michael and her business partners, Dale Campisi and Michael Brady, publishing is just one aspect of the firm’s expanding operations. Arcade also produces walking tours with Hidden Secrets Tours, including the popular Melbourne by the Book walking tour of literary Melbourne.

Campisi regards literary events and communication as complementing one another. "We all love a good event, and the purpose of our public activities is mostly about creating community around our publishing output. Storytelling is not a solitary activity."

 

Read the second half of the article here.

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